Kozhikode, also called Calicut, is a vibrant city on the Malabar Coast in Kerala, India. With a corporation-limit population of 0.6 million and a metropolitan population exceeding 2 million, it is the second-largest metropolitan area in Kerala and the 19th-largest in India. Kozhikode is recognised as a Tier 2 city by the Government of India.
This city, located in the Malabar region, served as the capital of the British-era Malabar district. Throughout history, Kozhikode earned the moniker “City of Spices” for its significant role as a prominent trading hub for Indian spices.
It was also the capital of an independent kingdom governed by the Samoothiris (Zamorins). The port of Kozhikode served as a gateway for the Chinese, Persians, Arabs, and eventually, the Europeans, facilitating trade along the medieval South Indian coast.
The etymology of the name Kozhikode remains uncertain. It is believed to be derived from Koyil-kota, meaning fortified palace. The term “kōyil” or “kōvil” in Malayalam/Tamil refers to a Hindu temple, specifically the Tali Shiva Temple.
The name underwent variations such as Kolikod, Qāliqūṭ (its Arab version), and the anglicised Calicut. Chinese merchants referred to it as Kūlifo, while Tamils called it Kallikottai.
In Malayalam, the city is officially known as Kozhikode, while its English name is the anglicised version, Calicut. The word “calico,” denoting a high-quality hand-woven cotton cloth exported from the port of Kozhikode, is believed to have originated from Calicut. Additionally, the term “calico cats,” referring to tricoloured cats, is also derived from the fabric name.
For travel enthusiasts, Kozhikode remains a heaven on earth, filled with historical forts, lush green forests, and tranquil beaches. Known for the most beautiful backwaters in Kerala, Kozhikode is the best weekend getaway for travel enthusiasts.
Although not as popular as other destinations in Kerala, this place is a must-visit on your next trip to Kerala if you want to witness nature at its best.
Wondering what to do on your next trip to Kozhikode? Let’s take a look at some of the topmost tourist attractions in Kozhikode.
Nestled amidst picturesque hillocks and a collection of islands lies a haven for bird enthusiasts known as the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary. Situated in Kozhikode, this sanctuary embraces the refreshing waters of the Kadalundi River.
Within this untouched landscape, over a hundred native bird species and around 60 migratory birds find their sanctuary. Wildlife enthusiasts and bird lovers frequent this destination, eagerly capturing every subtle movement of these beautiful creatures through their lenses. The sanctuary is elevated at an impressive 200 meters above sea level.
This bird lover’s paradise not only offers a breathtaking avian spectacle but also provides a tranquil retreat away from the bustling city. As you immerse yourself in the serene surroundings, you can witness the vibrant and playful birds in their natural habitat.
Adding to the charm, the Kadalundi River converges with the Arabian Sea at a point known as Kadalundi Nagaram. The river ecosystem is teeming with a diverse range of fish, crabs, and mussels.
To fully experience the splendour of the sanctuary, plan your visit between December and April, when the forest transforms into a lush green blanket, offering a captivating sight of the majority of bird species.
Kozhikode Beach, also known as Calicut Beach, is a popular destination situated on the Malabar Coast. The beach road was named ‘Gandhi Road’ after Mahatma Gandhi’s visit in 1934, and it has historically hosted significant public gatherings.
Stretching from Beypore in the South to Kappad in the North, this long drive offers scenic views and is renowned for its mesmerising orange sunsets. Adjacent to the beach, a bustling market attracts numerous tourists, making it a prime shopping spot.
As the central beach in Calicut, Kozhikode Beach draws the most visitors. It encompasses a 28 km coastline, including Beypore, Payyanakkal, Marad, Kallayi, Kuttichira, Thekkeppuram, Vellayil, South Beach, Valiyangadi, Kamburam, Putiyappa, and Elathur.
The entire stretch is known as the Beach Road, conveniently accessible through four bridges in the city. The beach itself is well-lit, and features paved walkways.
One of the beach’s highlights is the Lion’s Park and an aquarium, popular among children. Open every day from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM; these attractions offer entertainment and educational opportunities. The beach is also adorned with two piers that are over a century old, providing a unique charm.
Witnessing the dramatic tides engulfing the vibrant sunset sky is a delightful experience during the evenings. The tranquil atmosphere at sunrise and sunset attracts both locals and travellers. In the early morning, lucky visitors may even spot dolphins putting on a show.
Food enthusiasts and photography lovers will find Kozhikode Beach to be an excellent spot to indulge their passions. The rhythmic flow of the Arabian Sea creates a captivating sight for all to enjoy.
Kozhikode is renowned for its captivating backwaters. These serene waterways surround lush greenery, exotic flora, and diverse wildlife. Kozhikode’s palm-fringed canals, lakes, and rivulets exude a tranquil and peaceful ambience.
Unlike most rivers that flow towards the sea, Kozhikode’s backwaters have minimal or no current, allowing for unique boating experiences against the natural flow. The Canoli and Kallai Rivers in Kozhikode offer enchanting backwater streams to explore, showcasing the region’s scenic landscapes.
Kozhikode’s backwaters are known for their laid-back charm, reflecting the simple lifestyle of the local people. Indulging in delicious seafood while immersing in the rhythmic beauty of the backwaters feels like a therapeutic experience.
It is a must-visit attraction in Kerala, offering a tranquil escape where you can cherish quality time with loved ones and reconnect with yourself.
In this peaceful haven, you can witness tiny ripples created by playful fishes and enjoy the melodious harmony of birdsong. Experiencing the gentle sway of the backwaters is the perfect getaway to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.
Mananchira Square, located in Kozhikode, is a captivating complex centred around a man-made freshwater pond. This pond, built in the 14th century as a bathing pool by the feudal ruler Zamorin Mana Vikrama, feeds the square with its natural shower.
The square itself was established in 1994, previously known as Manachira Maidan and renowned for football matches.
Today, Mananchira Square stands as an architectural gem in the heart of the city. It features an open theatre, beautifully landscaped lawns, and mesmerising musical fountains.
Tourists flock to this destination to enjoy enchanting evenings amidst the meticulously maintained park adorned with lush green trees. The tranquillity of the pristine water creates a soothing ambience.
The square also boasts an artificial hill and impressive structures designed in a traditional architectural style, evoking a sense of ancient charm. Amidst the bustling streets of Kozhikode, Mananchira Square offers a serene and peaceful retreat.
The Pazhassiraja Museum, situated on East Hill, is named after the esteemed Pazhassiraja Kerala Varma of the Padinjare Kovilakom from the Kottayam Royal Family.
This museum is renowned for its collection of archaeological artefacts, including antique bronzes, ancient paintings, and historical umbrella stones, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region.
Kozhippara Falls, also known as Kakkadampoyil Waterfall, is located approximately 38 km from the city centre. Easily accessible by road, these falls straddle the borders of Kakkadampoyil on the Malappuram-Calicut District divide in Malappuram district.
The falls offer a captivating spectacle and are popular for activities such as swimming, bird watching, and jungle trekking. Nestled within the Kuthradampuzha River area, they provide a serene and picturesque environment.
Thusharagiri Waterfall, situated in the Western Ghats of Kozhikode district, consists of three cascading waterfalls. The falls derive their name, which means “snow-covered mountains,” from the breathtaking scenery surrounding the falls.
Located in a small tribal village, Thusharagiri is a paradise for trekkers and rock climbers. The trekking trails leading to Lakkidi Ghat traverse through dense foliage and lush green surroundings, offering visitors a truly delightful experience.
Matri Dei Cathedral, also known as the Mother of God Cathedral, is an ancient church in Kozhikode, Kerala, built in Roman architecture. With its roots tracing back to 1513 AD, this cathedral holds historical significance and is home to a 200-year-old Portrait of St. Mary.
Kakkayam, situated in Kozhikode, is a picturesque dam site enveloped by lush greenery. Located approximately 15 km from the Kakkayam Bus stop, the area features the captivating Orakkuzhi waterfall, which can be found just after the dam. Visitors may catch glimpses of various animals, including elephants, near the dam vicinity.
To explore the dam area, it is necessary to obtain permission from the Forest authorities at the forest office situated atop the dam. Note that cameras are not allowed near the dam premises.
Kakkayam offers a serene environment, abundant recreational activities, and opportunities to observe elephants, bison, and other wildlife, with conservation efforts falling under forest policy.
Thikkoti Lighthouse, believed to have been constructed on the remains of a shipwreck, is a notable attraction in Kozhikode. Located on a rocky shoreline, this lighthouse provides panoramic views and is a haven for various species of migratory birds.
Adjacent to the lighthouse on Kozhikode Beach, Lion’s Park is a theme-based amusement park that captivates children with thrilling rides and offers splendid sunset views.
Beypore, a charming coastal town in Kozhikode District, offers a delightful getaway. Nestled at the mouth of the dynamic Chaliyar River, the town is adorned with lush greenery and surrounded by mesmerising shades of blue. In the past, Beypore was named Sultan Pattanam during the reign of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore.
Despite its small size, Beypore is renowned for its shipbuilding industry. The shipbuilding yard here specialises in crafting Urus and Dhows, traditional Arabian trading vessels with a history of over 1500 years. Skilled craftsmen meticulously construct these ships, showcasing their exceptional expertise.
Fascinatingly, Beypore’s shipbuilding prowess extends to historic achievements. Notably, the flagship of the British admiral, Lord Horatio Nelson, who triumphed over Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, was built in Beypore.
Additionally, the sturdy wooden barges that once sailed through the Suez Canal during the reign of Cleopatra are said to have originated from Beypore.
What is truly remarkable is that the shipbuilding process in Beypore relies solely on the mental calculations and skill of the foreman, without any formal plans, designs, or sketches.
Beypore’s shipbuilding legacy and its picturesque coastal setting make it a captivating destination worth exploring.
Sweet Street, known as Mithai Theravu, is a bustling hub in Kozhikode renowned for its mouthwatering sweets. It is a popular shopping destination and remains open until 9 PM.
Along with its delightful sweets, Sweet Street is home to some of the oldest and finest shops in Kozhikode, catering to various essential needs.
Elathur is a charming village surrounded by a serene lake on one side and a river on the other. It offers a tranquil ambience for visitors. Seafood lovers will find Elathur to be a paradise, as it serves some of the freshest seafood, freshwater fish, and toddy, providing a complete beachside experience.
Vellari Mala, a picturesque location, follows the meandering path of Kanjirapuzha, a tributary of River Chaliyar. Along this journey, the water body forms captivating waterfalls and brooks, presenting a visual delight.
Peruvannamuzhi Dam, situated 60 km from Kozhikode, is a beautiful destination enveloped in lush greenery.
The dam’s reservoir offers speed boat and row boat rides, allowing visitors to explore the “Smaraka Thottam” garden, built in memory of freedom fighters from the region.
Wildlife enthusiasts can also visit the nearby crocodile farm and bird sanctuary. The dam is easily accessible from Kozhikode by bus.
Reaching Kozhikode can be done through various modes of transportation.
Kozhikode can be easily reached by air through the Karipur International Airport, also known as Calicut International Airport. The airport is located approximately 23 km from Kozhikode town.
It is well connected to major cities in India like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kochi, among others. Several airlines operate regular flights to and from Calicut, making it convenient for visitors to reach the city.
Kozhikode has its own railway station, which is well-connected to major cities within the state and other parts of the country. Travellers can easily reach Kozhikode by train from various cities.
The railway station provides convenient transportation options to reach different destinations within the city or nearby areas.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates buses that make it easy for travellers to reach Kozhikode by road.
If you are wondering how to reach Kozhikode by bus, you can avail of KSRTC buses that connect Kozhikode with cities like Coimbatore (178 km), Kochi (190 km), Mangalore (221 km), Bangalore (359 km), and Trivandrum (399 km).
These buses provide a comfortable and affordable mode of transport for visitors. Additionally, online bus ticket booking services are available, making it convenient to plan your journey in advance.